Employment and Training Administration
Washington, D. C. 20210






March 15, 1994




March 31, 1995











Unemployment Insurance Service




New Interstate Telecommunications Network (INTERNET) Application - Interstate Inquiry (IBIQ)

  1. Purpose. To advise State Employment Security Agencies (SESAs) that the software code for the real-time interstate inquiry/response application for INTERNET will soon be available for distribution and installation.

  2. References. ET Handbook 392; ET Handbook 399; Internet User Guide; Interstate Benefit Payment Plan.

  3. Background. Currently, assistance is provided to interstate and combined wage claimants based on information provided by the claimant. In many instances, the information about base period employment and prior claims is inaccurate and incomplete and results in invalid monetary determinations, backdated claims, and benefit delays. These delays and errors could be greatly reduced if wage and benefit information from other States' files were available to claimstakers at the time of initial claims or claimant inquiries.

    For the past few years, several States have participated in an exchange of such wage and benefit information using a communications connectivity and application commonly called ClaimNet. ClaimNet provides immediate access to information from the participating States' wage and benefit files. The availability of such information provides a major increase in the quality of service to interstate and combined wage claimants. In most instances, claims filing options can be determined by agent or filing States based on actual wage and benefit information on States' files instead of relying on the claimant's memory. States with this capability have also stated that the availability of information from other States' files was of immense help in providing claimants with filing options during the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program.

    With additional States expressing an increased interest in having access to the ClaimNet, a representative of those participating States requested that the Interstate Conference of Employment Security Agencies' (ICESA) Interstate Benefit (IB) Committee assume responsibility for the ClaimNet. In response, the Committee recommended that the Department of Labor pursue an upgrade of the INTERNET to support a real-time inquiry application.

  4. Interstate Inquiry (IBIQ) Pilot Test. To determine the technical requirements for and the feasibility of an upgrade of the INTERNET to support real-time communications between States, a pilot test was conducted using the ClaimNet Code and screens. The pilot was necessitated by the goal to upgrade the INTERNET as well as by States' interest in having the inquiry application available immediately.

    Eight States (Arizona, California, Louisiana, Missouri, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Texas) pilot tested the application. An attempt to include a non-IBM State was made, however, the State was unable to implement the application during the test period.

    During the pilot test, it was determined that real-time communications can be supported on the INTERNET. However, for technical and cost reasons, some States may not be able to install IBIQ application at this time. Technical support can be provided to States that can satisfy the following communications software and hardware requirements:

    -- Capability to communicate via LU6.2 communications protocol and support of one of the following software levels:

    -- PU4=VTAM V1, R3, and NCP V1, R2.1, or

    -- PU4/SNI=VTAM V2, R2, and NCP V3

    -- Support for CICS level Release 1.7-9106, and

    -- Sufficient computer resources to run the Query applications and the inquiry Extract program.

    It is our understanding that the application requires approximately 1,424,280 bytes, which equates to approximately 2 cylinders of 3380 DASD. The estimated CPU time required for each transaction is approximately .006 seconds, but this will vary according to the SESA's hardware and software configurations.

    -- Network connection is via a dedicated communications line or VSAT.

  5. Interstate Inquiry (IBIQ) Application. The new IBIQ application provides for real-time transmissions of requests for information and responses to the requests. It allows a State to send inquiries concerning wage and benefit information to other States and receive a response while interviewing the claimant. It does not provide direct access to another State's files. The inquiry is transmitted to and processed by the responding State and the response flashes back to the terminal from which the inquiry was initiated within seconds. During the pilot, the response time experienced ranged from 7.8 to 11.8 seconds. However, the on-going response time will be determined by the level of priority for processing assigned by the responding State to incoming inquiries.

    To initiate the inquiry, the requesting State need only enter the claimant's social security number and the responding State's Federal Information Processing Standards Code to the inquiry screen. The response record (screen) will contain wage and benefit information pertaining to the claimant, such as, existing claim monetary information, wage records, benefit payment history, overpayment balance, potential entitlement for new claim and wage information. Suggestions from the pilot States and those received during the National Interstate Meeting have been considered by the Interstate Benefit Committee in finalizing the data elements and design of the final screens.

  6. Distribution of the Code and Specifications. The Code and Specifications for this application will be distributed to all interested States, as appropriate, by the Martin Marietta Information Systems (MMIS) HUB. When the distribution is made to each State's designated representative, as appropriate, a notification will be sent to the agency's Unemployment Insurance (UI) Director with a copy to the appropriate Employment and Training Administration Regional Office. This notification is to ensure that the agency's UI Director is aware that the application has been sent to the State and that installation needs to be scheduled.

  7. Installation of the Application. To install this application, SESAs should be prepared to dedicate staff with appropriate experience in the IB program and in the areas of telecommunications and data processing to complete the necessary work in a timely manner. The amount of staff time required, by a medium-experienced applications programmer familiar with the State's benefit system and computer environment, to install the application and write the extract program is estimated to be approximately 100 hours.

    It is estimated that approximately 40 hours is needed to define the needed LU6.2 connection information. This time includes familiarizing the systems programmer with the application function, the physical labor to make the changes, and testing to ensure the connectivity is achieved. Experience with the pilot indicates that the actual time taken to install the application for test varied from 40 to 520 hours depending on the programmer's knowledge of the State's system and State documentation requirements.

  8. Scheduled Distribution and Implementation Dates. The IBIQ application will be available for distribution to all interested States on April 1, 1994. The application will be operational on the INTERNET effective May 1, 1994. Those States that are currently operational on the ClaimNet or the INTERNET, using the ClaimNet application, will have to reinstall the new IBIQ application to be supported by the INTERNET after April 30, 1994.

    In order to implement this application on the INTERNET in the least disruptive manner, prior to May 1, 1994, technical assistance by telephone and testing will only be provided by the MMIS HUB to those States that are currently operational on the ClaimNet application. After May 1, 1994, technical assistance by telephone, testing and implementation will be available to all other States.

    No on-site technical assistance will be available for installation of this application. No additional funds are available during FY 1994.

  9. Security Agreement for Participation in IBIQ. States will be required to sign an agreement with the Interstate Conference of Employment Security Agencies (ICESA), which will specify the purposes for which information obtained via the IBIQ may be used and contain requirements for protection against unauthorized access or disclosure. This agreement will be transmitted under separate cover by ICESA.

  10. Action Required. SESAs interested in this application must take one of the following actions:

    (a) A State that meets the requirements listed in section 4 above, should advise its Regional Office of its interest in receiving the application by March 29, 1994;

    (b) A State that is interested in installing this application, but does not currently meet the requirements listed in section 4 above, should contact the MMIS HUB to discuss the technical requirements and identify their needs, and advise its Regional Office if additional resources are needed.